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Sea Island Shrimp House: 50 Years and Still Making a Splash

Sea Island Shrimp House: 50 Years and Still Making a Splash

When Chrissy Anthony was directed to the kitchen of the new family restaurant to wash pots and pans her response was … “Well, if I’m going to wash pots and pans, I’m going to do it cheerfully!”

That’s more than a can-do attitude — it was a winning formula for getting a restaurant off to a good start. The restaurant, Sea Island Shrimp House, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer.

Chrissy Anthony, center, with her son, front right of Sea Island Shrimp House.

Co-founder Chrissy Anthony, center, with her son Barclay Anthony, (front right) CEO of Sea Island Shrimp House.

Co-founder Chrissy Anthony was at the center of family and friends Wednesday at a media event at the Bandera/Loop 410 location.

There were appetizers and samples of new menu items, plus lots of stories about the early days of the first Sea Island on Rector Street (which is still in operation).

The family’s interest in the restaurant business began all the way back to 1912, when Tom Anthony opened the Manhattan Cafe downtown on Houston Street.

Tom Anthony’s son, Dan Anthony, joined his dad at the Manhattan and bought it from him. He and city activists made the Manhattan Cafe one of the city’s first non-segregated restaurants

In 1965, Dan Anthony went on to co-found the fast-casual seafood restaurant with wife Chrissy and friend Harry Reed. Dan Anthony died in 2001.

Today, there are six restaurants in the chain — all of which still cook the food from scratch and, together, serve roughly a ton of seafood daily.

“We set out to use only the finest ingredients, shopped for the freshest vegetables, peeled our own shrimp and even decided to grind our own breadcrumbs so that they were perfect,” says Anthony, adding “We do that to this day.”

The family also announced the opening of a new Sea Island in New Braunfels later this year — “next to Buckee’s.”

“We wanted to find a way to give back to the community,” said Anthony Barclay, son of Dan and Chrissy Anthony, and now CEO of  Sea Island. The restaurant will team up with The San Antonio Food Bank this summer to feed kids who are in danger of going hungry when school — which serves free breakfasts and lunches — lets out.

So, in July, Sea Island will donate 50 cents of every new “Fresh at 50” menu item to the San Antonio Food Bank.

Look for the Fresh at 50 dishes on Sea Island’s menu: Grilled Salmon Salad, Bering Sea Catch, Bacon Mac & Cheese, Grilled Skewer Trio, 1/2 Pound of Crab Legs, Chicken Skewer Salad and Chipotle Crusted Fish.

Also, more events are coming up for the celebration of the 50th anniversary. On July 5, at the Rector Street location behind North Star Mall there will be a Vintage Car Display, starting at 10 a.m. On Aug. 3, from noon to 3 p.m. is the San Antonio Food Bank/Sea Island employee Volunteer Day and fundraising check presentation.

Sea Island salmon salad 2 crop

Grilled Salmon Salad one of the new dishes on Sea Island’s menu.

Sea Island promo poster fresh at 50 cropped






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Lunch at Southerleigh, Basil Fest and More

Lunch at Southerleigh, Basil Fest and More

crawfish1Southerleigh opens for lunch at Historic Pearl

Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery is now open for lunch. Beginning this week, Southerleigh will serve lunch from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chef Jeff Balfour says the lunch menu is featuring favorites from the dinner menu including the wood-fired pretzel served with beer cheese and sweet and spicy mustard, smothered and fried Parker Creek Ranch chicken breast served with red eye gravy, and the crawfish boil served with corn and red potatoes.

Southerleigh will also offer new sandwiches and salads including a pressure cooked pot roast in gravy sandwich served with shredded lettuce and tomato; Griddled 44 Farms Texas chili dog with 1015 onion, white cheddar, and hand-cut fries; and a chilled gulf shrimp roll with green goddess dressing, lettuce, and tomato.

Additionally, Southerleigh will offer the Cellarman’s Lunch Pail, which includes a choice of entrée from southern pot roast, crisp fried gulf golden tilefish, and wood-broiled oysters, served with your choice of green salad and market soup for $11.

Southerleigh offers weekday lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner daily from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and the bar is open daily from 2 p.m. to midnight. Southerleigh is located on the ground floor in the historic Pearl brewhouse at 136 East Grayson, Suite 120. For more information, please visit


Houston Street Food Community Picnic is Sunday

Support the San Antonio Food Bank by attending this Saturday’s gourmet picnic, with basket selections from Bohanan’s, Luke, the Monterey, Market on Houston, The Palm and more. Your basket purchase includes live music and unlimited wine and beer.

The picnic baskets must be reserved from participating restaurants ahead of time and picked up at the event Sunday, May 31.

picnic basketThe event will be on Houston Street between Navarro and St. Mary’s from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The gourmet picnic baskets will be $50 each. For $25 you can pick up a “kid-friendly” basket.

Visit the Houston Street Food website by clicking here at the store to look over the menus and reserve your basket. Each dollar raised from this event helps provide seven meals for a child this summer, while school is out and children lose their daily access to school lunches and breakfast.


Basil Fest is this Saturday at Pearl

Laurel Tree Basil1The San Antonio Herb Market Association is proud to present Basil Fest 2015 Saturday, May 30
from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Historic Pearl. The event is free and open to the public and includes plants sales, cooking demonstrations, a chef’s challenge and other educational features for all ages to enjoy.

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Brewing Up Fun at Southerleigh

Brewing Up Fun at Southerleigh

The open kitchen at Southerleigh.

The open kitchen at Southerleigh.

Chef Jeff Balfour is dishing up his brand of Texas cross-cultural cuisine to Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, which is now open at 136 E. Grayson in the Pearl Brewery.

Southerleigh plans to offer numereous beers on tap in addition to the ones brewed in house.

Southerleigh plans to offer numereous beers on tap in addition to the ones brewed in house.

As of Thursday’s opening, Southerleigh is already considered to be the 10th largest brewpub in the country.

So you can sip on a Seawall Belgian Wheat or a Darwinian IPA while dining on Pecan-Crusted Flounder, Old School Stuffed Crab, Braised Oxtail Pie or Brick-Griddled Diamond H Quail with oyster stuffing.

Starters range from freshly made pretzels to shrimp bisque to a roasted beet salad, while desserts include a wood-oven baked apple pie and, because it’s the season, strawberry shortcake with buttermilk sorbet.

Southerleigh houses a custom-manufactured brewery designed by Portland Kettle Works. Brewer William Les Locke Jr. has ensured that the new brewery sets new standards in San Antonio’s evolving brewing scene. It has a 15-barrel brew house, six serving tanks, and an extensive firkin/wood barrel-aging program. Southerleigh plans to offer up to twenty different beers on tap, including three hand engine, which will be available in flights or by the glass, bottle or growler. Current offerings also include the light Parsel Smash; Conjunction Curry Porter, an English porter with flavors of mustard seed, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, curry powders, and black pepper; and a coconut porter.

Spooning up Shrimp Bisque.

Spooning up Shrimp Bisque.

Austin-based architects Clayton & Little and interior designer Joel Mozersky of Austin’s Joel Mozersky Design have worked together to design the space, which honors Pearl’s historic brew house with refurbished designs while also reflecting Balfour’s coastal southern cuisine.

The 7,900-square-foot space boasts multiple dining options, including bar seating, patio seating, and a private dining room housed in one of the original grain silos that can seat up to twenty people. Additional private dining in the north dining room will hold seating up to seventy-five people, and Southerleigh will have the capacity to host parties up to two hundred people.

Southerleigh is now open daily from 6 to 11 p.m. for dinner with the bar opening at 5 p.m. and staying open until midnight. Lunch will be added in a few weeks. For more information, visit

Kasey McCullough is Southerleigh's lab tech.

Kasey McCullough is Southerleigh’s lab tech.

Oak Grilled Gulf Red Snapper over Shrimp and Pork Jowl Soubise.

Oak Grilled Gulf Red Snapper over Shrimp and Pork Jowl Soubise.


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The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market Stays; Plans to Thrive

The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market Stays; Plans to Thrive

Business was a little slow at The Yard Farmers and Ranchers Market, a couple of the vendors told us as they were packing up to leave at 1 p.m.

But Scott Naegelin, of Naegelin Farms in Lytle and new market manager, said he believed the market would make it despite controversy over the past couple of weeks about an alleged angry exchange of words between a vendor and previous managers Heather Hunter and David Lent.

The market is open each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offers organic produce and a range of other producers only items. It is in the back parking lot of The Yard, at 5300 McCullough Ave.

YardLogo Farmers Market cropped



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Les Dames d’Escoffier Bring Food, Film in Grand Style to Fundraiser

Les Dames d’Escoffier Bring Food, Film in Grand Style to Fundraiser

Meals on Reels table cropped

It was all glitter and pearls, top-notch auction items, perfect wine and food and a party to remember Thursday night as San Antonio’s chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s fundraiser filled a ballroom at the St. Anthony Hotel.

Meals on Reels, presented by members of the culinary organization for women, was one of this year’s events to bring in cash for scholarships and other support and opportunities for women who are in, or wish to become professionals in culinary pursuits of all kinds.

“It just went really smoothly, it was a great night, a really excellent collection of silent and live auction items – everyone did a great job,” said Les Dames President Kathy Shearer. She and restaurateur Dame Blanca Aldaco co-chaired the event. Debbie Gonzales, also a member of Les Dames and a manager at the St. Anthony, coordinated arrangements.

Planning began months ago, but the real push on site started a day ahead of the event as Dames and helpers set the stage, from auction room to banquet hall.

Grand Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Some 186 guests attended. The theme, Meals on Reels, was a posh take on a night at the Oscars. Tables gleamed with gray and aubergine linens, flowers, crystal candlesticks and swag bags. The entertainment was clips of foodie scenes from famous movies, shown on screens around the room and narrated by Dame Cynthia Guido and Ron Bechtol. The evening’s MCs were dames Tanji Patton and Leslie Komet Ausburn.

And of course, there was popcorn.

In the kitchen, St. Anthony Executive Chef Michael Mata and his staff cleared the way for Dames whose restaurant and cooking backgrounds prepared them to create and execute the ambitious menu Thursday night. The menu items matched those mentioned in the featured movies — ranging from Lobster Bisque and Grilled Quail to Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon.

Much of the prep work was done on Wednesday, under the guidance of Dame Naylene Dillingham, chef and owner of the renowned Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery in Tarpley.

Meals on Reels quail dish cropped

Grilled Quail with Silky Rose Petal Sauce

Dillingham was assisted by restaurateurs and chefs, including dames Nancy Fitch, Cathy Tarasovic, Lisa Wong, Jenny Mattingsly and Denise Mazel, as well as Central Market Cooking School Manager Mary Martini. Dessert was prepared by Dame Anne Ng, of Bakery Lorraine.

A group of five female culinary students from the Culinary Institute of America, enrolled in Dame Julia Rosenfeld’s writing class, also made an appearance. They, along with Rosenfeld, Cathy Tarasovic and I pitched in to help with the cheese course for the event.

Photographs by Susan Jaime and Bonnie Walker

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Silent auction items were collected by dames Di-Anna Arias and Erica Hanchey.

Live auction items, which provided fun later in the evening, included a one-week stay in a picturesque San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; a three-day culinary trip to New York for two, including dinner at the James Beard House; a chef-prepared dinner for 10 at Osteria Il Sogno in San Antonio; a private party for up to 30 people at the Don Strange Ranch; and a gourmet dinner prepared by members of Les Dames for 10 people at the home of Dame Pat Mozersky.

This fundraiser might be over, but the culinary expertise of this active local chapter of the international Les Dames d’Escoffier is planning another event, The Plate Changer,

for later this year.

About Les Dames d’Escoffier International: This year, Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Antonio Chapter (LDEI-SA), celebrates its Twentieth Anniversary. Our membership consists of dedicated professional women in the culinary arts, hospitality, agriculture, and other related fields. Our emphasis is on education and philanthropy and through our efforts, we are strengthening our community by following in the footsteps of legendary members both past and present from around the country such as Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Marcella Hazan, and Alice Waters. We are especially inspired and encouraged by our own chapter’s premier trail blazer and San Antonio star, Rosemary Kowalski, founder and CEO Emeritus of the RK Group.

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

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Wine, Spirits Notes: Hill Country Symposium, Wine Dinners, More

Wine, Spirits Notes: Hill Country Symposium, Wine Dinners, More

Fredericksburg hosts wine symposium

Highlighting the expanded goals for Texas Hill Country Wineries, the association will be hosting the first ever Hill Country Wine Symposium in 2015. Topics from vineyard to winery and business to hospitality will be covered over the two-day conference on March 24 and 25 at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg.

“Our committee has put together a great lineup of industry experts and we are expecting over 100 attendees from all over the state,” says Executive Director January Wiese. The Symposium is bringing in speakers from California including Clark Smith of WineSmith, Don Brady of Robert Hall Winery and Al Wagner of Clos du Val.

red wineTexas wine industry expert speakers include Fredrik Osterberg- Pedernales Cellars; Rae Wilson, Wine for the People; Tim Drake,  Drake Consulting; Dr. Julie Kuhlken, Pedernales Cellars; Dr. Russ Kane, Vintage Texas; Tammy Boatright and Lindsay Kana, VingDirect; Kimberly Frost, Martin Frost & Hill and more.

The Grape Exchange Wine Reception at the end of day 1 will be a chance for growers around the state to share wines from their vineyards with wineries looking for more fruit for 2015 and beyond.

Exhibitor tables will provide wineries and growers the opportunity to meet new vendors for their businesses as well. Sponsors for the Symposium include Hill Country University Center, C&C Sales & Marketing Glass Tech, Frost Bank and Marquee Event Group.

For more details and topics to be discussed, see here. Registration is open now. Non-members $125/one day or $200/both days.  For additional information on Texas Hill Country Wineries visit the website here.

McInnis joins Bending Branch Winery in Marketing

Bending Branch Winery is proud to announce that Jennifer McInnis has joined its team as the company’s marketing and sales manager. McInnis will be responsible for marketing initiatives, social media and on premise restaurant sales.

bendingbranchwinery_ corks 2021McInnis comes from the San Antonio Express-News, where she reported on the Texas wine industry for six years before being promoted to food & drink editor of the Sunday Taste section in April 2014.

“I am proud to join the Bending Branch team during this exciting time for the winery and the Texas wine industry. It’s impressive what they have accomplished in a little more than five years, and I’m thrilled to play a role in helping them achieve their goals for the future,” McInnis said.

Bending Branch Winery, a boutique winery near Comfort, Texas, is a sustainable practices and organically focused operation with 20 acres of vines, comprising 16 varieties. For more information, news and events, visit

Remy Martin Louis XIII dinner, a high-end experience

18 Oaks at the JW Marriott San Antonio will feature a rare and special dinner on Feb. 27. The steakhouse has partnered with Remy Martin for an exclusive Louis XIII Dinner Experience for a select number of guests.

Remy Martin box croppedGuests will dine on items such as a duck confit salad, Texas Wagyu filet and pan-seared scallops and a grapefruit mint sorbet paired with a perfectly matched wine selection.

Dinner, which starts at 7 p.m., will be followed by a guided tasting of Remy Martin’s Louis XIII.  18 Oaks at the JW Marriott is at  23808 Resort Parkway.

The price per person is $195 (includes dinner, wine and Louis XIII tasting).  Reservations are required; call 210-491-5825.


Single malt Scotch tasting coming up at Crumpets

When it comes to single malt scotch, age isn’t just a number; it’s the number that matters. Join Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery for an evening of elegant food and perfectly aged scotch on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Scotch glass illustrationEnjoy five single malt scotch selections paired with five equally rich dishes. Dinner will begin with a 12-year-old Glenkinchie paired with a Fromage de Chevre in Puff Pastry followed by a 16-year-old Lagavulin matched with Smoked Salmon Canapés.

The mid-dinner meal will include a 12-year-old Cragganmore and Prosciutto-Stuffed Mushroom followed by a 10-year-old Braichladdich and Lamb Chops with Fresh Rosemary and Dijon Mustard before dessert, Chocolate Florentine and a 14-year-old Oban.

Call 210-821-5600 to reserve your seat at $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery is located at 3920 Harry Wurzbach, San Antonio, TX, 78209.



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Simple, Easy Strawberry Cake for Valentine’s Day

Simple, Easy Strawberry Cake for Valentine’s Day

strawberries only basketMaking dinner for Valentine’s Day is certainly an option to making reservations — stay home, listen to your own music, enjoy your favorite wine and relax. Make this lovely cake ahead and just pile on some whipped cream and garnish with fresh strawberries to serve.

The recipe comes from “Brunetti’s Cookbook,” (Atlantic Monthly Press, $24.95) a wonderful compilation of Italian recipes by Roberta Pianaro and culinary stories by renowned mystery author Donna Leon. Her policeman hero, Guido Brunetti, solves mysteries in the heart of Venice while his wife, Paola, is known not only for her sharp mind (and wit) but the deftly executed dishes she serves every day at home.

This cake can be plain (as described in the recipe) or can be sliced horizontally into two layers, garnished with cream and topped with whole strawberries, for a more impressive presentation. Either way, you will enjoy the delicate flavor of the fruit and the richness of cream in this simple cake.


Strawberry Cake with Cream from ‘Brunetti’s Cookbook’

1 3/4 pound strawberries, plus 6-7 more whole strawberries to garnish (optional)

Strawberry cake with cream cropped6 medium eggs, separated

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups ladyfingers, crumbled

Butter and flour for the baking pan

1 cup fresh whipping cream

Wash, hull and dry strawberries. Cut them into small pieces, reserving other whole strawberries for garnish, if using.

Beat eggs yolks with sugar in bowl until frothy.  Add carefully crushed ladyfingers and the strawberries, mixing thoroughly to obtain a homogeneous blend.

In another bowl whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold gradually into the strawberry mixture. Pour into a buttered and floured springform baking tin, measuring 10 inches in diameter. Place in a preheated oven and bake for at least 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Whip cream in a bowl until quite firm (but don’t overbeat or it will turn to butter!).  Keep in the refrigerator until the cake is ready to be served. Serve cake while still warm, with the cold cream.

(If you are doing a layer cake, cool the cake before carefully using a long, serrated knife to cut horizontally to form two layers. Put cream between the layers and on top, and garnish with fresh strawberries to serve.)

From “Brunetti’s Cookbook” (with adaptation for layer cake)

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Tasty Events: Wine, Chocolate, KLRN’s TV Celebrity Chef

Tasty Events: Wine, Chocolate, KLRN’s TV Celebrity Chef

Passport to Greece at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard’s Passport Adventure Series is a bimonthly dinner series that focuses on areas of the world that produce olive oil and table olives.

Each dinner features an authentic menu featuring olives and oil from the country being highlighted as well as pairing the cuisine with wine from that region.

The next dinner is a culinary trip to Greece, and happens on Feb. 13. The reception is at 6:30 and dinner is at 7.  Greek wines will be paired with each course.

The price is $75 per persoon, with an 18 percent tip. You can call Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, which is on 25195 Mathis road in Elmendorf, a 25-minute drive from downtown San Antonio. Or, check the website here to make reservations. The menu is below.

Sandy Oaks passport to Greece logo1st Course: Greek Olives
Greek cheese, homemade pita bread,
Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)

2nd Course:
  Greek Stuffed Tomato
Stuffed with orzo, herbs, citrus, and feta over warm greens

3rd Course: Moussaka
Made with ground beef, eggplant, tomatoes, with a Greek cheese bechamel and fresh garden greens

4th Course: Grilled Lamb Steak
With roasted red potatoes and roasted zucchini; Classic tzatziki sauce

5th Course: Ouzo Spiced Pear Tartlet
With a Chocolate honey sauce
Olive mint sorbet

Mary Ann Esposito chefMary Ann Esposito of “Ciao Italia” appears in San Antonio in March

Join KLRN and Luce Ristorante e Enoteca for a multi-course Italian dinner, wine and fun with Mary Ann Esposito, host of “Ciao Italia,” the longest-running cooking program in America. You’ll also receive an autographed cookbook.

Esposito will be the featured chef at KLRN’s Chef Series on March 22.  Since 1989, PBS Chef Mary Ann Esposito has entertained and enlightened while offering valuable cooking tips. She crafts classic creations that food fans can easily recreate at home.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. The cost is $150 per person. Luce Ristorante e Enoteca is at 11255 Huebner Road.  For tickets, which are limited, click here.

 Little Gretel’s Denise Mazel named 2014 Businesswoman of the Year

The Boerne Chamber’s 2014 Businesswoman of the Year has been announced as Denise Mazel, chef and owner of Boerne’s Little Gretel restaurant. Mazel’s vision began more than 30 years ago when she spotted a little house for sale on River Road that became her first business in Boerne and the first commercial business established on River Road.

Denise Mazel and daughter Veronica Mazel-Brown

Chef Denise Mazel and daughter Veronica Mazel-Brown

When she first opened her shop, she offered knitting and needlepoint classes and sold yarn. Her long-time dream of owning a restaurant that would depict Boerne’s heritage came true six years ago when she opened Little Gretel.

She was recently nominated as a member of “Best Chefs America” and the only woman awarded that recognition in the San Antonio area.  In 2014, she was invited to compete in the Food Network television program “Beat Bobby Flay.”  She was also featured in an article titled Lone Star Kolaches published in Cook’s Country, a national publication, where her kolaches were praised as the best and most traditional.

During her travels back to her native Czech Republic, she was awarded the Honorary Certificate of Nobility for preparing and serving food to the heads of state. Mazel also is dedicated to linking youth to her profession by offering apprenticeships and sharing her knowledge and skills with Boerne ISD culinary arts students.

Little Gretel Restaurant is at 518 River Road in Boerne. It is open every day for breakfast and lunch, and open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner.   (830) 331-1368

Becker Vineyards Offers Wine, Music and Book Signing

From romantic wine and chocolate tastings to book signings and the annual Bluebonnets, Bluegrass and BBQ, Becker Vineyards in Stonewall provides lots of reasons to make them a destination. For more information on these and other happenings at Becker, please visit their website here.

Red_wine_closeup_in_glassFeb. 7, 8, 14, & 15 Annual Merlot & Chocolate Tasting (Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sundays, Noon – 6 p.m.)  Delysia Chocolatiers will have samples of ganache and bark as well as product for sale.  Al’s Gourmet Nuts will have gourmet nuts (spicy, savory, or sweet), too.  And Chef Ross Burtwell of The Cabernet Grill will have a cookbook signing (“Texas Hill Country Cuisine, Flavors from The Cabernet Grill”) on Feb. 7 only.

Feb. 21 Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 “Ragin’ Cajun & Texas Shrimp  Visitors will go at their own pace to the wineries on the wine road to sample a Cajun Shrimp concoction to pair with a wine.  Complimentary event; no reservations required.  Time:  11:30 a.m. until out.

March 14 & 15 Annual Bluebonnets, Bluegrass, & BBQ.  Dr. Becker’s brother Robert Becker and the Woodstreet Bloodhounds will play Bluegrass music.  No cover charge.  Chef Jayson Cox will be making BBQ to serve and sell to the public.  BBQ from 11:30 a.m. until out.  Music:  1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

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Aldaco’s Sunset to Close, Rise Again at Fairmount

Aldaco’s Sunset to Close, Rise Again at Fairmount

Aldaco's tres leches cake is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Aldaco’s famous tres leches cake is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth.

The Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine restaurant at Sunset Station will close on Friday, says owner Blanca Aldaco. She’ll be focusing on a new venture for her longtime restaurant at the Fairmount Hotel, 401 S. Alamo Street.

The opening of the new location is set for Sunday, Feb. 1.

“The sunny spot in question (Fairmount) … is a vibrant, perfect amount of space. I love the location and I cannot wait to be reborn in the middle of downtown San Antonio,” said Aldaco.

Taking over the Sunset Station location will be the RK Group, caterers that will be expanding their facilities to meet the demand for events held at the historic railway station in St. Paul Square year-round.

“The RK Group and I are excited about the future, as it is a win-win for both. We are definitely on the move, and I call this continuing education and gastronomically favorable,” said Aldaco, in a press release.

Aldaco has operated her popular Mexican restaurant downtown at two locations over the past 26 years. Aldaco’s other locations are Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine at Stone Oak, at 20079 Stone Oak Parkway and Aldaco’s Dominion, on I-10 near Leon Springs.




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January Locavore Dinner Has Been Canceled

January Locavore Dinner Has Been Canceled

This event has been canceled. Look for announcements of future events at Sandy  Oaks Olive Orchard.


ELMENDORF — “Delicious” has a whole new connotation.

Farm-to-table, locavore, eating local, sustainable and organic farming – all of these terms have been used increasingly in the past decade or more, indicating that what tastes good should also be good for you.

WarmOlives1The commitment by farmers and other food producers to high-quality, sustainable growing practices for food that is robust in nutrition and flavor, has been at the heart of the locavore movement and adding a defining touch to fine dining.

This is not a simple effort, but a far-reaching philosophy that’s put down roots in every aspect of food production in farms throughout the United States as well as internationally. From site preparation to planting, fertilizing to harvest, and finally to the dining table, the locavore movement is thriving.

One important tenant to the locavore philosophy is to try to limit the transportation of food for hundreds or thousands of miles to its final destination. The positive result of this is that the numbers of small farms in America, once dwindling, are now on the rebound.

At Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, sustainable practices have yielded an agricultural product that many said couldn’t be raised in Texas.

Sandy Oaks at harvest time, 2014.

Sandy Oaks at harvest time, 2014.

Not only is the ranch raising olives – many varieties of them – the quality of the olives, olive products and oil, is exceptional by industry standards. Sandy Oaks is certainly one of the best examples of how attention to best practices in agriculture yields great benefits – even under challenging conditions.

Founded by pioneering olive grower Saundra Winokur in the late 1990s, Sandy Oaks is an ideal place for initiating a new series of dining and learning experiences showcasing products from fruits, vegetables, breads and cheeses to wine grown and produced within a 100-mile radius.

The Locavore Dinner Series, beginning Jan. 16, will be dedicated to the farmers
in this area who will showcase their products and tell their stories. The series of
six dinners will be held outdoors in good weather or in a spacious and
well-appointed indoor dining area in inclement weather.

“In addition to our producing of a food product – olives from our olive orchard — which is very important, we also have a chef’s garden that uses the same organic principles and practices with growing herbs and vegetables,” says Winokur.

“Olives are our major crop, of course, but we are also trying other fruits as well, such as figs and pomegranates. We test what works best in our sandy soil out here, as well as in our microclimate.

“We constantly try to expand on our food presence here and that will eventually include grass-fed beef from animals we are raising now,” Winokur says.

Saundra Winokur photo cropped horiz

Saundra Winokur, founder of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.

“In addition to what we practice as farmers, we’ve also created an on-site restaurant that supports local growers. We have a strong belief in farmers markets and support them – we take our products to the Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio each week.

“We pay tribute in many ways to farmers – and artisans – how hard they do the difficult work of farming here in South Texas. And, this is what the new Locavore Dinner Series 2015 is all about,” says Winokur.

The founder’s philosophy is shared by executive chef Chris Cook and the other enthusiastic staffers at Sandy Oaks.

Cook’s vision of the Sandy Oaks Locavore Dinner Series is to focus as much on education as on the food he and his staff prepare for the meals. Also, noting Winokur’s emphasis on promoting individual farmers, Cook says their goal is to have most, if not all, food served during the series be locally sourced (within a 100-mile radius).

Those who sit down to the table will be able to talk to some of the farmers or vintners who produced the food and wine that is on each menu after listening to them describe their work.

Food and Beverage Director, Chef Chris Cook

Executive Chef Chris Cook

The fact that the meal will be served at a long, communal table to a limited number of guests is fitting for a farm-to-table style dinner – and also, says Cook, “I’m hoping at the end of the meal everyone who’s attending knows everyone else’s name.”

“It’s important to me that people not only have a good meal, but have also come away knowing more about where their food comes from, how it is produced and why they should eat locally.

“At Sandy Oaks, we hold this philosophy near and dear to our hearts – and we try not to make compromises,” says Cook.


Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard Locavore Dinner Series 2015                               

This is the first in a series of six dinners. SavorSA will post the dinners before they are scheduled. 

January 16, 2015. 6 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. dinner. $80 plus gratuity.

Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, 25195 Elmendorf, Texas. Please purchase tickets online or by calling 210-621-0044. See Sandy Oaks’ website at for more information and directions to the ranch, which is about 25 minutes’ drive from downtown San Antonio.


Pontotoc Vineyards,

My Father’s Farm,

Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard,


Tour of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard with olive oil tasting

Selection of Texas cheeses, pickled seasonal vegetables

Pontotoc Estate Tempranillo


Peeler Farms Chicken Cassoulet, My Father’s Farm beet and spinach

Pontotoc Smoothing Iron


Sandy Oaks Olive Oil-poached Gulf Shrimp, pomegranate and sweet potato

Pontotoc Valley Spring


My Father’s Farm Smoked Turnip and Cilantro Bisque, crispy kale and pickled radish

Pontotoc Spy Rock


Sandy Oaks Olive Oil Cake, pear and vanilla brulée, dried grapefruit

Pontotoc San Fernando Academy

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